Cisco’s Netflow collector has been a valuable tool to IT departments and operations centres and has seen some improvements over the years. One of the best features of the current version (Netflow v.9) is the use of a template-based format for flow records. This approach means that the extensible design of the flow records allows for future enhancements to be implemented without major changes to record formats.

This week we discuss how Netflow v.9 gears your Netflow collectors towards better flow analyses. IT departments and network operations centres (NOCs) rely on fast access to crucial network metrics. Your analytics are only as powerful as the tools you use to extract the information you need, when you need it. Netflow collectors are the software tools that help IT take advantage of the services provided by Cisco’s Netflow.

Here are just some of the services Netflow provides:

  • Application monitoring: Identify issues related to application performance. Netflow gives you the right amount of detailed information to understand your network applications bandwidth requirements.
  • Traffic accounting: Get a perspective on traffic flow and eliminate bottlenecks as and when they occur.
  • Network capacity planning: Use detailed current and historic reports to make informed decisions around capacity expansion undertakings.
  • Trend analyses and forecasts: Understanding network trends allows you to cater to your business and your users. Certain business sections may rely on more bandwidth-hungry applications and require IT to provision services more strategically.
  • Analyses and reporting: Rich data means detailed reports. IT benefits from the detailed information offered and can easily repurpose it for meaningful reporting.
  • Assist in meeting service level agreements: Live and historic data assists IT departments in meeting SLAs and identifying ways in which to improve their service offerings.

Network monitoring software designers who build flow collectors for Netflow metric analyses no longer have to be concerned with recompiling their applications, thanks to the Netflow v.9 new template design.

Another distinguishing factor of NetFlow monitoring from the other Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) dependent monitoring technology, is to more accurately identify the nature of traffic flow. As networks evolve and expand, IT professionals will increasingly rely on their monitoring technology to match the evolutionary pace at which the internet moves.

Netflow is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the network professional and if complimented with a powerful Netflow collector, it will yield valuable network data to the user.

Image credit: TMCNET